Photo by Aurora Anderson

Heart Creek Trail captures the heart and soul of Rocky Mountain hiking

By Aurora Anderson, June 28 2018 — 

Heart Creek Trail is an easy-to-access and peaceful hike located just outside of Canmore that is sure to make you forget about the woes of the city. Though 2013 flood ravaged through the valley and left an unmistakable mark on the trail, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyable 4.7-kilometre trek.

The rocky creek is wedged between the distinct Heart Mountain and the massive Mount McGillivray, just above Lac Des Arcs. It is easy to access off Highway 1 and has a large parking lot with facilities at the beginning of the trailhead.

For the first 500 metres the trail runs parallel to the highway. However, once you turn into the valley, the sound of the creek overpowers the noise of vehicles and you’re left with the relaxing sound of running water. While following the trail, you cross over the creek seven times using sawn-log bridges and have the option of following a rocky path near the creek if you want to dip your toes in the water along the way.

Heart Creek is a relatively low-impact and flat trail that offers a beautiful and aromatic evergreen forest to guide your way. Additionally, bolted and anchored climbing walls on both sides of the trail offer plenty of surfaces for rock climbers year-round.

There are smaller waterfalls and an abundance of cascading water throughout the hike if you want to stop and have a picnic or just enjoy the moment along the way. This is also a great opportunity for photographers to try some long-exposure shots.

At the end of the trail is a powerful waterfall that echoes throughout the valley. A memorial bench — for a young woman named Leah Michelle Cloutier — survived the flood and overlooks a climbing wall, making this stop extra special to enjoy a snack before heading back.

The casual return brings plenty of time to admire and respect the powers of nature. There is evidence of the damage the flood did throughout the trail and some parts are still inaccessible. However, officials and volunteers have put tremendous efforts into restoring the trail and making it a simple and peaceful escape for all to enjoy.

Heart Creek Trail offers a relaxing and enjoyable trek through the mountains with a beautiful forest lining the way. It’s the perfect hike for beginners or for more experienced adventurists that want to get out for a few hours on a simple trail.

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